With the many different types of therapy that exist, you deserve to know if you're going to meet Freud, Buddha or Billy Graham before paying for therapy. what to expect when you sit down to talk with me...
My philosophy of therapy is based on empirical science (controlled, statistically measured, peer-reviewed studies). I consider myself a pragmatic therapist, using evidence-based approaches proving study after study what helps relationships not only to survive but also to thrive. Specifically, I use the foremost Gottman Method relationship therapy, while incorporating mindful awareness strategies based on neuroscientific data. We now know happiness is not set in stone. In fact it is about 50% genetics, 10% circumstances and 40% intentional activity (source). That 40% is huge. And that's what we focus on.
Interpersonal Neuroscience: how we think
This is the foundation of how I understand and explain therapy. Studies have shown behaviors (the intentional activity part) are formed from habits engrained in our brains that at some point were consciously formed or learned--but now we largely act without thinking. By becoming aware of our habits again, we are already beginning to change the connections in our brains. Psychotherapy essentially does naturally what psychotropic medications do (strengthen or weaken connections in the brain), without the side effects (source)! The ultimate goal of psychotherapy is to form and/or strengthen productive habits, while bringing attention to and focusing less on the unproductive ones. In couple and family therapy, the results can be relationships that are more secure, productive and reciprocated.
So. You are not stuck in this pattern forever--even if it has been going on for years! It's just time to bring some attention to it and make some intentional change.
Gottman Method: What Causes relationships to Last (or not last)
I use Drs. John and Julie Gottmans' critically acclaimed methods, combining wisdom from 4 decades of research with over 3000 couples. What makes this method so reliable? John Gottman studied couples inside his Love Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he observed them with cameras, microphones, a one-way mirror, heart monitors, bodily sensors, and stress hormone testing. He was able to study over time which relationships would end, and which lasted. He also studied couples who have been together for decades and are very happy. Ultimately, he became able to determine what coincides with long-lasting, happy relationships, and what behaviors contribute to relationships that end in breakup.
His studies systematically identified unhelpful behaviors to avoid that consistently lead to divorce, and strengths on which to focus exhibited by the happiest, longest-lasting couples. These strengths provide the relationship mutual respect and appreciation; a deeper, more unbreakable bond and enjoyment of each other’s company again. Much of this is surprisingly true of parenting as well, as Gottman has found similar behaviors make or break the parent-child bond, and parents serve as emotion coaches for their children, leading by example in order for the relationship to thrive.
Read more about Gottman's findings on couples here →
Mindfulness-based Therapy helps change more rapidly occur as it becomes easier to spot unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and readjust them. Research shows when we slow down and more purposefully notice what is going on at present (instead of worrying over the past or future), we are able to lessen emotional distress, angry or anxious reactivity, and instead act more adaptively with mental flexibility, improving relationship satisfaction (source; source). This is what helps begin to change the engrained habits about which I spoke above.
ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy brings the perspective that while we cannot avoid unwanted or negative thoughts and emotional reactions (because striving for pure happiness is not realistic), we can learn to be aware of these unwanted thoughts, accept and even expect them, and plan for how to react to them when they occur. While your reactions and those of your partner or family member may seem engrained, they are not set in stone. The mind is flexible, albeit stubborn. My goal is to provide you with tools to meet future difficulties in the relationship with more ease and adaptability.
Brief Solution-focused Therapy draws out strengths in the relationship from the past and helps to plan small steps to reach new goals for the future. I also use other postmodern techniques like Collaborative, Narrative and Strategic therapies in order to help change behavior first, followed by changing how you view the problem.